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UN's Top Political Post To Be Vacated March 31 By Feltman, Dina Powell Mulled By Sources

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, January 25 – How untransparent yet predictable is the UN under Antonio Guterres? The top UN Political Affairs position belongs to the United States. With Obama-nominee Jeffrey Feltman set to leave by March 31 at latest, senior staff and diplomats have been asking Inner City Press which American will replace him. On January 25, amid complaints of Guterres' silence and long weekends away, a name emerged leaving some shaking their heads: Dina Powell. "She's perfect," one said of Trump's deputy national security adviser for strategy of whom spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she's "returning home to New York. She’s expected to continue working with the administration on Middle East policy issues from outside the White House." Why not from the UN? Inner City Press notes she's been spotted in Davos, where Guterres at the last moment did not go. "Really?" demanded another, alongside a controversial Serbian government presentation in the UN Delegates' Entrance. Stranger things have happened. Guterres gave his "Global Communications" position to an official, Alison Smale, who refuses to answer Press questions even about whistleblowers' complaints about her Department of Public Information. Another Brit Martin Griffiths seems destined to take over the UN's Yemen envoy post, perhaps taking with him some staff currently assigned to Staffan de Mistura for Syria. Other Department of Political Affairs posts have already been given away, but not yet announced. This is Guterres' UN. When Guterres goes to the PyeongChang Olympics next month, his real dream is to get an invite to the north, to Pyongyang, UN sources exclusively tell Inner City Press. Having failed on other diplomatic initiatives like Cyprus in his first year atop the UN, Guterres is "desperate" for some high profile drama, the sources say. The UN's acceptance of a "Junior Professional Officer" who is the son of a high official of Kim John Un's Workers Party -- whom Inner City Press in October exclusively identified as Kim Joo Song, here -- was meant to built the connections to get Guterres into the country. But isn't it the US that Kim Jong Un wants to negotiate with? We'll have more on this. When the UN's Committee on Relations with the Host Country met on January 17, the representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea read a three-page statement condemning the US for issuing his Mission to the UN's tax-exempt card in the name "North Korea" and not Democratic People's Republic of Korea. He said, "We presumed it would be only a kind of technical mistake by the U.S. side, and returned the card back to the U.S. mission, while requesting them to correct that serious mistake." The statement, which Inner City Press has exclusively obtained immediately after the meeting (photos here, full PDF of letter via Patreon, here) continued that the U.S. mission replied, "It seems to be a glitch in our database, we'll reach out to our office in DC." That was on December 13, the statement said, continuing: "on 14th December there was an explanation from the U.S. mission informing that, quoted as 'Our DC office has indicated that all country / mission names on OFM credentials for Democratic People's Republic of Korea indicate North Korea which is the conventional short abbreviation. The short name for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is North Korea, so the tax card will remain the same." The statement concluded by condemning "such reckless political hostile policy" and demanded an apology. Watch this site. Throughout 2016 New Zealand documentary maker Gaylene Preston and her crew staked out the UN Security Council along with Inner City Press, awaiting the results of the straw polls to elected Ban Ki-moon's sucessor as UN Secretary General. Preston's focus was Helen Clark, the former New Zealand prime minister then in her second term as Administrator of the UN Development Program. Preston would ask Inner City Press after each poll, What about Helen Clark's chances? Suffice it to say Clark never caught fire as a candidate. Inner City Press told Preston, as did many other interviewees in her documentary “My Year with Helen,” that it might be sexism. But it might be power too - including Samantha Power, the US Ambassador who spoke publicly about gender equality and then in secret cast a ballot Discouraging Helen Clark, and praised Antonio Guterres for his energy (yet to be seen). Samantha Power's hypocrisy is called out in Preston's film, in which New Zealand's Ambassador complains that fully four members of the Council claimed to be the single “No Opinion” vote that Clark received. There was a private screening of My Year With Helen on December 4 at NYU's King Juan Carlos Center, attended by a range of UN staff, a New Zealand designer of a website for the country's proposal new flag, and Ban Ki-moon's archivist, among others. After the screening there was a short Q&A session. Inner City Press used that to point out that Guterres has yet to criticize any of the Permanent Five members of the Council who did not block him as the US, France and China blocked Clark, with Russia casting a “No Opinion.” And that Guterres picked a male from among France's three candidates to head UN Peacekeeping which they own, and accepted males from the UK and Russia for “their” top positions. Then over New Zealand wine the talk turned to the new corruption at the UN, which is extensive, and the upcoming dubious Wall Street fundraiser of the UN Correspondents Association, for which some in attendance had been shaken down, as one put it, for $1200.  The UN needed and needs to be shaken up, and hasn't been. But the film is good, and should be screened not in the UN Censorship Alliance but directly in the UN Security Council, on the roll-down movie screen on which failed envoys like Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed are projected. “My Year With Helen” is well worth seeing.


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